Tallahassee, FL – Hansel E. “Tootie” Tookes, a longtime Florida A&M University (FAMU) athletic administrator and educator, passed away Wednesday evening. He was 86.
The funeral service is scheduled for Monday, November 19, at 11 a.m. at Bethel Baptist Church, 417 West Tennessee Street.
“Coach Tookes was a legend in the life of Florida A&M University,” said President James H. Ammons. “He was a true Rattler who was admired and respected by many. This is a great loss to the FAMU family. He will long be remembered for his longtime support and generous contributions. He was a great guy who maintained a sense of humor even throughout his illness. What I enjoyed most about him were the messages and the advice he gave me to take to the football team as I talked to them prior to the game. He will be missed.”
Tookes, whose passion and enthusiasm for FAMU, its Health and Physical Education Department and the school’s storied athletic program, never waned in his later years following his retirement in the late 1980s. He remained an active member of the FAMU Alumni Association, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the FAMU National Varsity “F” Club and the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame Steering Committee.
Indicative of his continuing love for FAMU, Tookes and wife, Lavada, began a scholarship endowment program for the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department in the late 1990s.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Tookes served as Director of Athletics at FAMU, chaired the FAMU Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department and oversaw the FAMU Intramural Department during his career at the university.
From 1947 through the mid-1960s, Tookes served on the FAMU football coaching staff, under legendary Hall of Fame Coach A.S. “Jake” Gaither, mentoring the tackles and serving as the team’s advance scout of future opponents. He also served as the school’s golf coach.
He was appointed athletics director in 1975, upon the retirement of Gaither, serving in that role until the fall of 1980.
“Coach Tookes,” as many knew him, founded the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame in 1976, an institution that has now honored more than 200 former athletes, coaches, administrators and supporters.
Tookes also oversaw the FAMU athletic program’s transition to NCAA Division I in the late 1970s, helping transition the program from membership in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) to affiliation with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in 1980.
Undoubtedly, the move that he will be most remembered for during his reign as athletics director was his role in the creation of the Florida Classic football game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman College, which began a 27-year run in 1978 in Tampa.
Tookes, along with Bethune-Cookman athletic director Lloyd “Tank” Johnson, former FAMU President Walter L. Smith and former B-CC President Oswald P. Bronson, hammered out the deal for the Classic, which has now grown to epic proportions, annually drawing 70,000 fans to the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Also known for his enthusiastic vocalizing of the fabled FAMU battle cry, “Hubba, Hubba,” at sports and alumni gatherings, Tookes began his long association with FAMU as a student-athlete on the Rattler football team.
An All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tackle for the Rattlers from 1939 to 1942, Tookes helped FAMU to win Black College National Championships in 1940 and 1942.
After graduating from FAMU, Tookes continued his athletic career in the United States Army, where he stood out as a tackle for the Camp Lee team for three years.
He returned to FAMU in 1947, joining the Rattler athletic staff as an assistant football coach and golf coach, while also serving as associate professor in the Health and Physical Education Department.
His wife, Lavada, two sons, Hansel II and Darryl, and several grandchildren survive him.
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